Tag: Liverpool

FA Cup: Aston Villa 2-1 Liverpool

Aston Villa will meet Arsenal in the FA Cup final after a thoroughly deserved win over a desperately disappointing Liverpool at Wembley.

Villa’s win was a triumph for manager Tim Sherwood as his side produced a performance of style, composure and grit to come from behind and reach their first FA Cup final since their loss to Chelsea in 2000.

As a consequence there will be no dream finale to his Liverpool career for Steven Gerrard. The Reds skipper, who will join Major League Soccer side LA Galaxy in the summer, was hoping to make a final appearance for the club in an FA Cup final scheduled to take place on 30 May, his 35th birthday.

Philippe Coutinho clipped Liverpool into the lead but the dangerous Christian Benteke levelled before half-time and Villa scored the winner their display fully merited through Fabian Delph’s cool finish nine minutes after the break.

Lethargic Liverpool mounted a rally of sorts late on when Kieran Richardson cleared off the line from Liverpool captain Gerrard and half-time substitute Mario Balotelli was dubiously ruled offside when he had the ball in the net.

Villa, however, were not to be denied and the final whistle sparked scenes of joy among players and supporters alike.

The normally animated Sherwood had been calm on the touchline throughout but all his emotions poured out as he celebrated another trip to Wembley on 30 May, on top of moving Villa towards Premier League safety. The ex-Spurs manager, who replaced sacked Paul Lambert in February, has overseen a superb rejuvenation at Villa Park.

Villa had giants all over the pitch, particularly in the shape of Benteke and the gifted 19-year-old Jack Grealish, who played with a calm that belied his years in this hothouse atmosphere.

Liverpool, in contrast, were dismal and once again failed to deliver when the big occasion demanded – which will be a matter of great concern to manager Brendan Rodgers.

Read more at BBC Sport

Premiership: Liverpool 2-0 Newcastle

Raheem Sterling, Joe Allen provide goals as Liverpool ease by Newcastle

Raheem Sterling and Joe Allen scored as Liverpool kept their Champions League qualification hopes alive with a 2-0 win over Newcastle on Monday night.

With striker Daniel Sturridge unavailable following a knock against Blackburn last week, Sterling provided the opener in the ninth minute by skipping through the Newcastle defence and sending a curler into the top corner.

Liverpool controlled most of the game, but Newcastle did have two good chances in the first half.

Referee Lee Mason denied a major penalty shout when Ayoze Perez appeared to be tripped up in the box, and shortly afterward Simon Mignolet was called into action to make a diving save from an Ayoze header just before the break.

Joe Allen pounced on a loose ball in the 70th minute to double Liverpool’s advantage.

The points were sealed when Moussa Sissoko was sent off with a second yellow card in the 83rd minute for a dangerous tackle on Lucas Leiva that could have been given as a straight red.

Liverpool are four points back of Manchester City in fourth with six games to play.

Read more at ESPN

Premiership: Liverpool 1-2 Man Utd

Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard was sent off 38 seconds after coming on as a half-time substitute as Manchester United retained their grip on a top-four place with a vital win at Anfield.

Gerrard was introduced for Adam Lallana at the start of the second half with United deservedly leading through Juan Mata’s early goal – but was gone almost as quickly after following up a thunderous tackle on the goalscorer with a reckless reaction to a challenge with a clear stamp on Ander Herrera.

It was inexcusable behaviour from a player of Gerrard’s experience, having just been handed the responsibility by manager Brendan Rodgers of getting an underperforming Liverpool side back into the game.

Mata emphasised the folly of Gerrard’s red card when he added a second with a sensational volley just before the hour to confirm United’s superiority in a game that confirmed the impression that manager Louis van Gaal is now getting the sort of performances and results he demands.

Daniel Sturridge pulled a goal back to give Liverpool hope of an unlikely comeback but the visitors were never seriously threatened again and could even afford the luxury of Wayne Rooney seeing an injury-time penalty saved by Liverpool keeper Simon Mignolet.

United built on last Sunday’s impressive 3-0 win against Tottenham to extend their lead to five points over Liverpool, who are a place behind in fifth.

Read more at BBC Sport

Premiership: Swansea 0-1 Liverpool

Liverpool maintained the pressure in the race for Champions League qualification as Jordan Henderson’s fortunate second-half goal saw off Swansea at the Liberty Stadium to seal a 1-0 win.

Henderson’s 68th-minute winner — his sixth goal of the season and his third in successive Premier League games — had a slice of good fortune about it as Jordi Amat’s attempted clearance clattered into him, but Liverpool will not worry about that on a night when Swansea had them clinging on for large parts of the first half.

But Liverpool showed the resilience of a side which has not conceded away from home in the league since Dec. 14 and and grew in stature as the second half unfolded.

The gap between themselves and fourth-placed Manchester United was cut to two points again before the pair meet in a huge Anfield collision on Sunday.

After Arsenal and United both won over the weekend Liverpool knew they could not afford slipping up in south Wales and they were boosted by the return of skipper Steven Gerrard to the matchday squad after missing seven games with hamstring trouble.

But Gerrard started on the bench as Rodgers kept faith with the midfield and attacking personnel which has had served him so well in recent weeks and underpinned the performances which have made Liverpool the form team of 2015.

Joe Allen had shaken off a hip injury to feature against his former club and Martin Skrtel had recovered from the sickening fall which forced his withdrawal from Liverpool’s last game, the FA Cup quarterfinal tie against Blackburn eight days earlier.

Bafetimbi Gomis had also been declared fit to lead the Swansea forward line after collapsing on the field at Tottenham on March 4, the result of a vasovagal condition which can lead to low blood pressure but one which apparently has no lasting effects.

Liverpool’s need for the three points was greater than a Swansea side who had already reached the 40-point mark expected to guarantee another season of Premier League football, but it was the hosts who enjoyed the greater possession and scoring opportunities in an enthralling first half.

Swansea were also slick on the break and Allen’s saving tackle prevented Gomis from profiting after rounding Emre Can before Skrtel took up the right position to clear Ki Sung-yueng’s header at the back post.

Skrtel’s carbon-copy clearance soon denied Gomis as Swansea spotted a route to goal through Wayne Routledge’s forays down the right flank and crosses to the far post.

Liverpool offered only fleeting moments of menace, most notably when Daniel Sturridge held off Amat for Adam Lallana to fire into Lukasz Fabiasnki’s midriff and the Polish goalkeeper comfortably plucking Philippe Coutinho’s 20-yard shot out of the air.

But it was Swansea’s one-touch passing which was catching the eye and Ki found Gomis whose smart one-two with Routledge freed the Frenchman on goal.

Gomis took the shot early, maybe too hastily, but it still forced a fine sprawling save from Simon Mignolet in the Liverpool goal.

Mignolet made an even better save from Gylfi Sigurdsson’s curling effort and was then relieved to see Jonjo Shelvey’s strike from the resulting corner deflect to safety off Alberto Moreno.

Rodgers must have demanded a major improvement from his side at the start of a second half which opened with Gomis arriving late after the action had started.

And Liverpool immediately began to find their rhythm, if not the final ball, as Swansea were penned back in their own half for the first time in the match.

Swansea were almost cut open after 58 minutes when Sturridge fed Raheem Sterling down the right and his cut-back found Coutinho who forced an excellent save from Fabianski at the base of his post.

Gerrard was sent on after 64 minutes with Liverpool firmly in the ascendancy and he was soon celebrating a goal, even if it came in rather fortuitous fashion.

Skrtel advanced from the back and his pass squirmed through off Sturridge before Amat’s attempted clearance cannoned off Henderson and over the helpless Fabianski.

After that Liverpool pretty much held Swansea at arms length and Sturridge almost put the gloss on the win when he struck the post in injury time.

Read more at ESPN

FA Cup: Semi Final Draw

FA Cup holders Arsenal must wait until next Monday to find out who they will meet in this year’s semi-finals at Wembley.

Shortly after seeing off Manchester United in an exciting Sixth Round tie at Old Trafford, Arsene Wenger’s men were paired with the winners of Bradford City and Reading in the last-four.

Manchester United legend Peter Schmeichel and Arsenal fan Dermot O’Leary made the draw for the semis, which drew out Aston Villa to face the victors of Liverpool and Blackburn Rovers’ replay in early April.

Bradford or Reading Arsenal
Aston Villa Liverpool or Blackburn Rovers

The two ties will be played on the weekend of 18 and 19 April at the national stadium, exact dates and times will be confirmed soon.

Read more at The FA

FA Cup: Liverpool 0-0 Blackburn

There was little magic in this FA Cup quarter-final on an afternoon when, for once, Liverpool’s free-flowing football deserted them in the face of a committed and well-organised Blackburn side.

A 0-0 draw meant that the Reds failed to score for only the third time in the last 12 matches as mid-tabled SkyBet Championship side Rovers frustrated the home side.

Blackburn succeeded where, a week ago, Premier League champions Manchester City had failed in not only keeping a clean sheet but avoiding defeat as they brought their hosts’ five-match winning run at Anfield to an end.

However, based on their first-half performance, there may be a tinge of regret on Blackburn’s part that they are not already celebrating a trip to Wembley.

An eight-minute injury delay for Martin Skrtel, who fell awkwardly in an aerial challenge with Rudy Gestede and appeared to briefly lose consciousness before being carried off wearing a neck brace, disrupted the flow as early as the third minute.

Blackburn responded to the lengthy break better and threatened to overwhelm their off-key hosts, who struggled to dominate midfield with Emre Can replacing the injured Joe Allen.

Gestede, Rovers’ 15-goal top scorer proved to be a handful for a remodelled defence which now had substitute Kolo Toure at its heart with goalkeeper Simon Mignolet also enduring his fair share of aerial tests.

Toure’s reading of the game allowed him to cut out a break from Craig Conway but the Blackburn midfielder was able to regain possession and swing over a cross which Glen Johnson chested narrowly past the post under pressure from Gestede.

Conway was less precise with his next effort, blazing over when presented with a free shot after Toure had given the ball away and got caught out of position.

Blackburn continued to dominate with Raheem Sterling, positioned out wide on the left, having to track back to block a Gestede but for all their pressure they could not force the breakthrough.

Liverpool’s efforts were sporadic with Adam Lallana having a penalty claim turned down for a challenge by Matt Kilgallon, Toure blasting home only to be denied by an offside flag and Daniel Sturridge’s fierce effort in added time parried away by Simon Eastwood.

If the home side were hoping the interval would help put things right in the second half Alex Baptiste’s 49th-minute header, tipped over by Mignolet at full stretch, was a warning it would require more than a 15-minute break to alter the momentum.

Liverpool needed something to jolt them into life and the introduction of Mario Balotelli just before the hour was aimed at doing that, although Toure again came closest to scoring with a header against the post from close range.

Balotelli’s blast high into the Anfield Road End was evidence of the job Blackburn had done in frustrating their opponents, although Baptiste got away with a surreptitious shirt-pull on the Italy international as the match entered its last 15 minutes.

Jordan Henderson’s angled drive was batted away by Eastwood as Blackburn mounted a determined rearguard action in the face of late pressure which saw Sterling head wide but the visitors fully deserved the chance for another shot at securing a semi-final spot on home turf.

Read more at ESPN

Premiership: Liverpool 2-0 Burnley

Stand-in captain Jordan Henderson led from the front with his second goal in successive matches as Liverpool maintained their pursuit of a top-four place.

With third-placed Arsenal and Manchester United also winning, Brendan Rodgers’ side could not afford anything less than three points and a straightforward 2-0 victory over the Premier League strugglers was the achieved with the minimum of fuss.

Henderson, in possession of the armband in the absence of Steven Gerrard, back in training this week after a hamstring injury, slotted home just before the half-hour and Daniel Sturridge’s header just after the break sealed the result.

With Henderson, and the team, in this form the watching captain – who departs for Los Angeles Galaxy in the summer – must be wondering where he fits in.

Liverpool, the league’s only unbeaten side since the turn of the year, have not been defeated in the last 12 league games – picking up 30 points from a possible 36 having won seven of the last eight with six clean sheets.

Rodgers’ side are upwardly mobile and moved back into fifth place, which they had been ousted from by Southampton 24 hours earlier, remaining three points behind Arsenal and two behind United, who visit Anfield a week on Sunday.

Burnley, on the other hand, have just one win in the last 12 league matches and stay second-bottom three points from safety.

Just 24 seconds had elapsed when Sturridge brought a smart reaction save out of Tom Heaton low to his left after Raheem Sterling had cut the ball back

But if the hosts thought that was the beginning of the onslaught they were mistaken as Burnley recovered their composure quickly and set out their stall to harass and make things difficult.

They achieved that with plenty of endeavour but despite gaining the upper hand in the game, what they lacked was that touch of class.

Liverpool have that in spades in the form of Philippe Coutinho, who pulls the strings in the space between opposition defences and midfield, and he was soon demanding and receiving more of the ball.

The clever brain and quick feet of the diminutive Brazil international have always been a characteristic of his play but what he has added to his game with devastating effect is shooting power.

Two wonder goals in successive matches have given the 22-year-old the confidence to have a go and when he let fly from distance the shot rebounded off a crowd of defenders to Henderson who, having also found the net in Sunday’s win over Manchester City, rammed home from the edge of the area.

It was the first time in his senior career the 24-year-old had scored in consecutive matches.

Three minutes later Coutinho almost replicated his brilliant effort against City from a similar position but although he wrapped his right foot around the ball to impart plenty of spin the shot bent just around the far post.

It encapsulated the match as a whole. Liverpool, having spent £120million in the summer, had far more quality to call upon than Burnley, who make up for the difference in financial clout with committed players who carry out manager Sean Dyche’s game plan effectively.

Goalkeeper Tom Heaton had to deny Sturridge three times in the first half alone: once from a direct shot, second time racing out to snatch the ball off striker’s toes when Emre Can’s deflected effort looped up off Michael Keane and then sticking out a leg to win a one-on-one with the England striker.

Burnley, for all their hard work and desire to go toe-to-toe with their opponents could not create half as much with Danny Ings, a reported target for Liverpool this summer, robbed by a perfect tackle from Martin Skrtel six yards out and Ashley Barnes heading at goalkeeper Simon Mignolet moments before the break.

Six minutes into the second half the Clarets were exposed again as Adam Lallana led the defence a merry dance with some nifty footwork to retain possession long enough for support to arrive in the form of Henderson, whose cross to the far post was nodded in by Sturridge.

Barnes volleyed wide to provide a reminder the Premier League strugglers were far from finished while Ings, as was the case for his team, came up just short in a race with Mignolet.

Read more at ESPN

Premiership: Liverpool 2-1 Man City

Liverpool put a huge dent in Manchester City’s title hopes with a 2-1 victory which dramatically enhanced their own hopes of a top-four finish.

Chelsea’s involvement in the Capital One Cup final had given Manuel Pellegrini’s side a chance to reduce the gap at the top to two points but, as was the case last season, they were cut down at Anfield.

Eleven months ago defeat here did not prove their undoing in the title race as Chelsea did them a favour by winning at Anfield.

This time it was Liverpool doing Chelsea favours — not something their fans would usually celebrate but on this occasion their club’s needs come first, and with the championship beyond their means, the race for Champions League qualification takes priority.

Jordan Henderson’s brilliant opener was matched by an equally good team goal from Edin Dzeko but Philippe Coutinho’s 75th-minute winner eclipsed them all.

Anfield is a bad ground for City, who have now not won here in 12 league matches, yet it was supposed to be their hosts who were mourning a Europa League exit to Besiktas on penalties on Thursday.

City reverted to the team which thrashed Newcastle 5-0 last weekend after losing to Barcelona in midweek but it was the home side, registering four changes — most significantly returning playmaker Coutinho — from the defeat to Besiktas, who got off to a flier.

Coutinho, who twice set up Adam Lallana to first shoot weakly at Joe Hart and then brilliantly finish from a narrow angle only to be judged marginally offside, was the instigator.

Pressing hard he robbed Vincent Kompany and rode a challenge from the City captain before laying off to Raheem Sterling, who gave Kompany a torrid time in the first half, and he teed up Henderson to curl a beauty over Hart and into the top corner in the 11th minute.

Immediately the intensity went up a notch, with Sergio Aguero breaking free of Skrtel and beating Simon Mignolet but not the far post with a left-footed shot.

It was end-to-end stuff, with the creative Coutinho and equally mercurial David Silva running the show for their respective sides, although an honourable mention should go to the pint-sized Joe Allen, who was a giant in midfield against players of huge size and even bigger reputations.

The former’s ball with the outside of his right foot sent Sterling racing down the left wing, but although he easily jinked past Eliaquim Mangala, City’s 32 million-pound summer signing, his cross rolled through the six-yard area with no-one to knock it in.

Silva was increasingly finding space in front of Liverpool’s back four, the area where he is most dangerous, and from there he crafted City’s 25th-minute equaliser.

The Spain international picked out Aguero, whose sublime ball to Dzeko was deservedly rewarded with a goal as the Bosnian slotted past Mignolet for his 50th Premier League goal.

From then on the game became even more open and entertaining, something of a rarity for a noon kick-off on a Sunday.

Both defences looked to be the weakest links, with Mangala equally out of touch as Kompany while Dejan Lovren’s presence in the back three, after his penalty shoot-out miss in Istanbul cost his side Europa League progress, seemed to cause as much indecision in Liverpool’s ranks as it did consternation in the stands.

The ripple of applause he received for holding off or, depending on your persuasion, pushing over Pablo Zabaleta in the box just before half-time seemed more in relief than appreciation.

Attacks continued, with Aguero heading over 20 seconds into the second half and Sterling bundling wide a Lallana cross, but the quality level dropped somewhat.

In an instant it was raised again, in the 75th minute, when Coutinho cut in from the left, dropped his shoulder and unleashed an arcing shot which dipped over the outstretched fingertips of Hart.

Once again going behind sparked City to go to another gear and, having sent on striker Wilfried Bony for Fernandinho, Aguero’s angled shot whistled just past the far post after Lovren had lunged in.

A frenzied final 10 minutes saw Coutinho have another shot deflected over, Bony escape with a yellow card after appearing to lead with an elbow on Lallana, substitute Daniel Sturridge roll a shot wide with only Hart to beat and Silva flash a shot just off target with the seconds ticking down.

Read more at ESPN

Europa League: Besiktas 1-0 Liverpool (5-4 on penalties)

Liverpool lost their first European penalty shootout as Besiktas knocked them out of the Europa League.

Centre-back Dejan Lovren missed the crucial spot-kick after Tolgay Arslan’s 20-yard curler forced extra-time in the round of 32 second leg.

Daniel Sturridge’s shot was beaten out by Cenk Gonen as Liverpool failed to make their first-half superiority tell.

Besiktas were the better side after that, and almost sealed the tie in 90 minutes as Demba Ba hit the crossbar.

Slaven Bilic’s side deserved to go through after recovering from a dreadful opening 45 minutes to dominate the game, meaning that Liverpool are left with the FA Cup as their last realistic hope of a trophy this season.

Liverpool were missing a number of injured key players – including captain Steven Gerrard, vice-captain Jordan Henderson, centre-back Mamadou Sakho and playmaker Philippe Coutinho.

Read more at BBC Sport

Premiership: Southampton 0-2 Liverpool

Liverpool moved to within two points of a Champions League place by scoring with their first two shots on target at fifth-placed Southampton.

Philippe Coutinho scored with a 25-yard curler in the third minute.

Southampton had two early penalty appeals turned down, as challenges on Filip Djuricic by Emre Can and Joe Allen went unpunished.

Raheem Sterling also had a penalty claim rejected, but made it 2-0 when Matt Targett failed to clear a cross.

Liverpool are the only team not to have lost a Premier League match in 2015 and are well placed to push for top-four finish in their final 12 matches.

The result saw Brendan Rodgers’ side leapfrog Tottenham into sixth and left them three points behind third-placed Arsenal.

They had to ride their luck, though, to hold on to the early lead given to them in spectacular fashion by Coutinho.

The Brazil midfielder gathered Lazar Markovic’s pass and hit a third-minute strike that bounced in off the underside of the crossbar.

Liverpool had already survived a penalty appeal by that point, as on-loan Benfica midfielder Djuricic burst into the area and appeared to be pushed over by Can, but referee Kevin Friend gave nothing.

Southampton were appealing in vain again within a minute of Coutinho’s goal, as Djuricic looked to have been fouled by Allen, with Eljero Elia’s follow-up shot saved by Simon Mignolet amid the confusion.

The visitors had a penalty claim of their own rejected when Jose Fonte took Sterling’s legs from underneath him – although the defender could argue he got the ball first.

There was more controversy before the break, with Mignolet appearing to handle just outside the box as he raced out to stop Elia reaching Nathaniel Clyne’s through ball.

Markovic, despite his assist for Coutinho’s goal, looked uncomfortable in the left wing-back role as Liverpool wobbled defensively, and Rodgers’ decision to replace him at half-time with Alberto Moreno gave the visitors a more solid look.

The hosts failed to open the Reds up as they had done in the first half, and conceded a second when Moreno broke down the left after Morgan Schneiderlin had given the ball away, and Targett’s scuffed clearance fell for Sterling to sweep in.

By then, Southampton had run out of ideas, and Rodgers’ side had a fourth successive victory secured.

Read more at BBC Sport